Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

How to Tell if Laundry Soap Nuts Still Have Cleaning Power

March 13th, 2012 · 77 Comments · Cleaning, Green Living

image

If you use natural soap nuts for washing your laundry, you’ll quickly find that there’s a bit of a learning curve. Compared to pouring in a measured amount of liquid, dried fruit in a bag is a different system entirely!

Already lost? Check out my soap nut reviews to learn more about my experiences with soap nuts and laundry, plus my favorite brand, NaturOli.

It’s been over two years since I first tried soap nuts to wash our laundry, and although there have been bumps in the road as I learned the ropes, they’re still my number one choice, particularly because they’re SO frugal.

The Basics

If you’re new to soap nuts, here’s the drill:soap nuts

1. Count out 4-5 nuts (which are actually dried fruit that grows on trees) into a muslin bag – one should have come with your washing nuts.
2. Tighten the drawstring on the bag.
3. For hot or warm water wash, simply toss the bag into the bottom of your washing machine and fill with dirty laundry as usual.
4. For cold water wash, you have two options:

  • Soak in a cup of hot water for about 3 minutes to “activate” the saponin (sudsing power) in the soap nuts.
  • Toss in the bottom of your washing machine and run hot water until the bag is mostly covered. Sort your laundry (does this ever take less than 3 minutes?) and continue the cycle with cold water. Don’t forget to add the clothes.

5. When you move the laundry to the dryer, be sure to keep an eye out for the bag. It doesn’t seem to hurt anything if it goes through the dryer, but it’s annoying to lose it. This is one of the biggest changes from “regular” laundry detergent as far as your routine goes.

Soap nuts remain active with enough saponin, a natural surfactant, for about 3-7 washes. The frugalistas among you are wondering: “Can I go for 8? Do I have to keep track and toss them at 5 so I don’t have to redo a load and waste water?”

That, my friends, is what I’m here for today.

The instructions with my soap nuts said that if they feel slippery when wet, they are still active. I struggled with the subjectivity of “slippery.” Everything feels a little slippery when it’s under running water, don’t you think?

soap nuts suds (3) (475x356)

After communicating with the good folks at NaturOli, I like this  way better:

The Suds Factor

When you first fill a bag with fresh soap nuts, run it under warm or hot water and squeeze and mash and rub the bag until the nuts are softened. You’ll see suds coming through the muslin. Those are active nuts.

soap nuts suds (1) (475x356)

You now have the secret to tell when to toss your soap nuts. (You can compost them, by the way.)

Just run the baggie under the water if you think you’ve probably done 3-5 loads and squeeze until you see suds. If it looks similar to those fresh nuts, you’re good to wash laundry. If you feel like you have to work hard to get suds or there just aren’t enough to make you happy, time to switch out the nuts.

Sometimes, I feel subjective about even this, so I just add a new nut or two, make sure I only use that batch 2 more times and call it “good enough.”

soap nuts suds (4) (475x356)

Now that you know the secret of the suds factor, if your laundry soap nuts do happen to go through the dryer, you can tell without question if you killed them or not. See? Learning curve. I never used to worry about killing my All Free & Clear. Winking smile

If this all sounds like too much for you and you’d rather measure, pour, and be done, but you do like the natural eco-friendliness of doing your laundry with fruit that grows on trees, try the liquid made from soapnuts that NaturOli calls Extreme 18x.

Would you be okay with keeping a teaspoon in your laundry room? That’s the only change you’ll have to make if you try 18x, because in a regular washer, you only need a teaspoon (half teaspoon for HE washers!).

My mom prefers to avoid the bag-chasing routine and has a few bottles of 18x and a handy pump that measures the correct amount for her. She was just telling me that she’s so surprised how long her little stash is lasting her (she writes: two bottles of 18x per year…The pump is fantastic!  One or two pumps supplies the correct amount…depending on the size of your load).

UPDATE: Great tips in the comments for strategies people use to keep track of how many loads, plus a frugalista who uses the spent nuts to make a “tea” for “one more load.” Thanks, KS community!

SAVE! Use the code CWAA5 to save 15% on CleanWell products, including CleanWell’s Natural Hand Sanitizer, until 12/31/2012.

Have you tried soap nuts for laundry? What are your best tips?

(top photo credit)

[interactive_links style='side_count']

Pin It

Are you getting the KS monthly yet? Only once a month, this newsletter helps you get the best of KS in ONE email, plus always something randomly helpful that you can’t find on the blog. Sign up HERE and get your FREE 85-page soaked grains recipes ebook upon activation.

———————————————

I’d love to see more of you!  Sign up for a free email subscription or grab my reader feed. You can also follow me on Twitter, get KS for Kindle, or see my Facebook Fan Page.

If you missed the last Monday Mission, click here.

Kitchen Stewardship is dedicated to balancing God’s gifts of time, health, earth and money.  If you feel called to such a mission, read more at Mission, Method, and Mary and Martha Moments.

Disclosure: I am an affiliate of NaturOli and CleanWell and do receive commission when you purchase starting with my link, but I also use and enjoy the products! See my full disclosure statement here.

Tags: ···

77 Comments so far ↓

  • Beth @ Turn 2 the Simple

    I tried Soap Nuts for a while but didn’t like trying to find the bag while putting stuff in the dryer and never knowing for sure if they were still active. I keep some around for “back up” and to make a cleaning solution if needed for things like carpet shampooing…but I prefer my Biokleen laundry powder. still super frugal for me — a $13 box lasts about 4 months — that is with 6-7 loads of laundry a week plus 2-3 loads of diapers!

    [Reply to this comment]

    dr sunita k Reply:

    you can use a sock of putting the nuts and put a knot to it so it is easier to find the sock while putting the stuff in the drier

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Jane

    So what about using soap nuts in a front loader? I would assume I just add the bag of nuts into the machine as I would if it were a top loading machine?

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Jane,
    Yes, I know soap nuts can be used in HE machines or front loaders. Not sure if you use fewer nuts like you do soap, but the insert will explain that (nursing right now or I’d check for ya!). ;) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

    Anne B. Reply:

    I have a front loader, and use Soapnuts. They are especially suited to a front loader since they do not produce an excess amount of suds. Also, since front loaders are often prone to an unpleasant smell if not cared for correctly, soapnuts also make this less likely to happen. Just a word about keeping my washer odor free. I don’t use the dispenser for anything. Hence, the Soapnuts baggie right into the wash. I use the same amount – 5-6 nuts. After my laundry is done, I make sure to wipe out the inside of where the soap dispenser sits (mine comes out for cleaning), as a lot of water hangs out in there, and I carefully dry the inside of the drum, and rubber seal. In between laundry days, I run a small personal fan inside the washer, that stays on all the time. Air circulation is key to preventing mold growth. There is a company that makes a fancy fan to attach to the rear vent of most washers, but it’s pricey and if you screw it in to the washer it may void any warranties. I got my fan at a convenience drug store for about 4 dollars. Also, soap and softener build up, will contribute to the problem, as they are either petroleum or vegetable oil based. That’s why Soapnuts are absolutely perfect for your HE front loader, as well as any other machine.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Cheryl

    I bought Soap Nuts when you let us know of their great sale a couple of months ago. Bought a great big bag of half nuts. :) Thanks for the tip.

    They mention that the nuts turn grey when they no longer work. I keep checking mine, but they’re still brown. Don’t know if my HE front loader makes a difference in how long they last.

    I’ll try your hot water squeeze just to make sure, though. I know that washing in water alone gets a lot of dirt out of clothing by itself, but I don’t want to find that I’ve been washing with nothing else! Then again, if it works… lol

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Kate @ Modern Alternative Mama

    Love mine, too. I’ve been using them almost 4 years now. I tried 3 – 4 other things and they made my cloth diapers repel or stink. Switched to soap nuts — no more problems. I haven’t even *really* had to strip the diapers! (Although I do if someone was sick or some got left too long or it’s been several months — but it’s not a long process. I kind of “cheat” strip them mostly by adding some RLR.)

    Super easy to use…I have been known to toss one in without a bag if I can’t find a bag (which is often). They work just fine like that too. Best laundry solution ever!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Barbi Reply:

    Hi Kate, could you tell me your method of “cheat” stripping? I don’t know what RLR is, either.
    I haven’t CD’d for about 4 years, and now that I have a new baby, I’m getting back into it, and feel like I’ve forgotten a few things! Especially since I didn’t have a front loader back then and do now. Anyway, glad to hear that you’ve been using the soap nuts with CDs for so long, I just got some but have been hesitant to use them until I could get around to googling to find out if they were okay. :)

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Meghan @ Whole Natural Life

    I use the soap nuts liquid. It works great! I use a community laundry room right now and I just couldn’t see myself messing with the actual soap nuts in that laundry room.

    We’re moving soon so I’ll be getting my own washing machine in a couple of months. I’m so excited! And if we get a HE washer I’ll only have to use a 1/2 teaspoon instead of a teaspoon!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Stacy Makes Cents

    I bought them at your recommendation Katie. :-) I trust your opinion. We LOVE them! I love that I now have ONE thing that washes everything – regular clothes, baby clothes, and diapers. It’s like Christmas every time I do the laundry.
    Thanks for the heads up about the suds factor.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Marie Benware

    Thanks for the tips! Just started using them last fall and am always losing track of how many times I used which bag. Now it doesn’t matter, just squeeze for suds instead.

    My 8th grade daughter had a Home Ec assignment to do the laundry and had to write up a report on the steps and results. She attached a few soap nuts to her report. Her teacher who had never heard of them, thought they were really great and wanted to know more about them!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Susan b

    I used them once (not naturoli) and liked them until once they stained one of my pieces of clothing. I have a front loader and generally transfer the clothing out within 5 minutes of the cycle ending….but once there was a brown stain coming through the muslin bag and onto my shirt.

    Question….with my front loader I have to put the clothes in, and the muslin bag and then shut it (and it locks). I don’t really think I can change temperature mid cycle. What to do?

    [Reply to this comment]

    Lucy Reply:

    I had the same issue. I used a front loader and generally transfer soon after the cycle ending, but found some brown spots on white sheets and a few other white items that I couldn’t get out. I now use Charlie’s Soap, which KS also reviewed.

    [Reply to this comment]

    drsunita k Reply:

    for white laundry one can make the liquid out of the soapnuts by putting 4 to 5 of them in a glass of water and bringing it to boil .then transfer only the liquid by straining it to your laundry

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Julia MacNeil

    I would love to be able to make my own laundry soap with the nuts. I have a recipe but I’m not sure how to substitute the nuts in? Have you ever made your own liquid?

    [Reply to this comment]

    RaisingZ Reply:

    I use this website and make a liquid out of my soapnuts http://www.buysoapnuts.com/how-to-use-them/. I find it much easier to keep a canning jar of the liquid by my washer. It is super easy to make and it is working great.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Julia,
    I haven’t bothered to make my own liquid, but it’s basically like making tea. Another commenter here linked to some online instructions, and NaturOli’s package also gives directions. Without a preservative, it doesn’t last more than 1-2 weeks out of the fridge, though, is my understanding. ?? But it’s supposed to be simple! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

    Julia MacNeil Reply:

    Thanks to both of you. I’m gonna do it!
    I didn’t want to use just the nuts because I wash in cold water.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Julie

    I used a front loader for a while and just soaked the bag in a cup of hot water for a few minutes before tossing it (and the “tea” it made) in the washer. Love my soap nuts! I have a huge bag that will most likely last the rest of my life.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Amy

    I haven’t read the comments yet, because my little one just woke up, but I wanted to comment! First, my husband dried the nuts and they were fine for multiple more washes. 2) I have found that if I actually take them out of the bag, to let them dry, they seem to last longer (on know the directions say to dry in the bag….) 3)I usually get an entire week or so out of them (meaning 6- 7 washes). I am nuts and keep track on my laminated instruction sheet (mainly for hubby!), with tally marks and a dry-erase marker. I am excited about the sudsing thing though….never even thought about it! I usually just go by whether the clothes look/smell ok, and mostly the “light brown/grayish look and softness of the shell” instructions.

    P.s. I ordered the soapnuts through you when you mentioned the sale a month or so ago, and LOVE THEM! Also, I ordered the pieces, which were a better price and work great!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Tonya

    I too decided to give the soap nuts a try when you mentioned the sale. My daughter has skin reactions to chemicals on her clothes, so I thought they would be good for her. I didn’t expect them to clean my son and husband’s sports clothes – but they do. My husband who also has skin issues is now a raving fan! It’s fun to have a product with so little downside. Thanks for the tips!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Sharon Reply:

    I just started using soap nuts and still trying to decide if they are working.. my clothes don’t get really dirty, I work in an office, but my husband and get pretty grungy at work, and he says his clothes “smell funny”… how can I convince him he is just used to over perfumed commercial detergents and just give it a couple tries.. I have some essential oil I can add a few drops to the bag, but it’s expensive!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Susan

    I keep a sticky note and pen on the inside of my laundry cupboard and make tally marks. I determined after experimenting for a few weeks that I can get 7 loads from 5 nuts. If I am ever in question, I throw the bag in a jar that I keep in the cupboard, add a little water and shake. If there are suds, they are still good to use.

    Thanks for telling me about soap nuts. I have never seen these anywhere before reading about them on your blog.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Sara Reply:

    I do the same thing! Keep a post it with tally marks on the inside of laundry room door. I typically use 5 nuts for 7 loads. After the seventh load, I usually boil the nuts and use the tea for the next load. I bought the pieces during the big sale a few months ago and absolutely love them!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Mary

    What about fabric softener?

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie G. Reply:

    A tablespoon or so of white vinegar is what I use for fabric softener.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie J Reply:

    Basic questions:

    Is the vinegar used on a final rinse cycle?
    Do you remove the soap nuts before you do the vinegar treatment?
    Will 5 soap nuts clean a load of my husband’s heavily soiled mechanic laundry?

    Thanks for the great info!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Katie,
    Since I don’t use the vinegar, I’m guessing, but I am nearly certain you have to add the vinegar on the rinse – which is why I don’t do it, too much of a hassle. I doubt you’d need to remove the soap nuts bag. And for oily laundry…the best thing to do is try! Grease stains are my nemesis no matter what I use on laundry, so I don’t have any happy stories for you on that front.

    Good luck! :) Kaie

    [Reply to this comment]

    Steph Reply:

    I use a downy ball for the vinegar. Works a treat! Drop it in at the beginning- you’re golden!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Sarah Reply:

    For oily laundry, you should sprinkle it with a powdered clay product like Terre de Sommieres or grind up some white chalk and rub it into the stains, leave it for a while then shake off and wash as usual. I add washing soda to my front loader to help lift dirt and stains.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Dawn Reply:

    Hi, Katie J,
    I’ve been using vinegar for softener for years in my frontloader & just add it in my softener tray before I start a load. I’ve been using soapnuts for a few months & haven’t had a problem with using them together.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Mary,
    I’ve just never used it, before or after my “green” conversion!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Heather | Mom 4 Life

    Great post, thanks Katie! I ordered my soap nuts when you recommended them as some others have mentioned as well. I have been using this method: right before each wash I add a “binder clip” which are round metal rings to the strings to keep track of how many loads I have used them for. I like your tip and will start using that :). I had no idea I could “kill” them by putting them in the dryer, can you tell me more about this? How is drying them in the dryer different than air drying them?

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Heather,
    I doubt you can – I just always feel like perhaps I have! ;) My own insecurities…. :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • RaisingZ

    I started off with the 18x liquid and now make my own detergent out of the soap nuts. I am just too lazy to deal with the bag and the liquid seems to work just fine for me. I probably don’t get as many washes out of them as you all do but I am liking it :) Thanks for these tips though…I might have to give the bag a try.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Rebekah

    Good tip! I soak my bag in a glass of hot water beforehand, because I usually wash in cold water.

    I keep track of washes with a piece of masking tape, running right along the rim of the glass I use for soaking the soap nuts. Using a Sharpie, I wrote 1-2-3-4-5 on the masking tape, and then stuck a paper clip over the rim. Now I just slide the paper clip along the piece of masking tape, according to how many washes I’ve used that bag for. (New load = slide it forward one numeral.)

    [Reply to this comment]

    Susan Reply:

    Do you add hot water to your washer? I only wash in cold and want to make sure that these will work for me if I only use cold. I do not even have hot hooked up to my washer.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Rebekah Reply:

    Not usually, I just wash in cold. I actually stopped using soapnuts a while ago though… I felt like they were leaving a funny smell. I use Charlie’s Soap powder now.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Susan Alexander

    Awesome! The directions I got with mine said to use for 3-5 washes and once they felt mushy they were done for. I’ve struggled with that, so I’m excited to try this new sudsy method! I didn’t realize you shouldn’t use in a cold wash without prepping – my directions said they’d last longer in cold washes…. I will be washing on warm from now on. Maybe that’s why I was just noticing a BO smell in my shirts… :(

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Susan,
    No need to wash on warm, just activate the nuts before starting the load – cold will still make them last longer, and your clothes, too. :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

    Susan Alexander Reply:

    Yeah, but my laundry is in the basement with no sink – frankly with 3 very young kids I don’t have the time or energy to presoak my nuts ;)

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Katie

    Thanks for this, so helpful. I have one tip to help keep track of the number of loads. We put 4 (now we’ll put more) push pins on a board and label them: 1,2,3,4. We put an empty canvas bag on the number load our soap nuts are on to tell us how many times the nuts have gone through the wash. It’s helped a lot, especially when two share the laundry duty.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Katie

    One thing I can’t wash with straight soap nuts is my boy’s diapers. I need to boil them in vinegar to get the stink out. What do you all use for cloth diapers?

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Katie,
    I’ve heard both ways on soap nuts and cloth diapers, must be that they don’t do well with some kinds of water but better with others. So far I’m using Rock’in Green myself… :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Kathleen K

    Thank you Katie for this excellent article. I’ve been considering them for some time, since it would be a little easier than making my own detergent from soap, wash soda and borax. However my biggest reservation is wondering if they REALLY get DIRTY and SMELLY clothes CLEAN? I’m talking boys and man out in the yard all day, ground in dirt, stinky sweat? What about the food stains that no one mentioned? Chocolate, tomatoes, grease, etc?

    Our baby days are over and I mistakenly thought laundry would get easier. (I knew quantity would grow, but the problems/ challenges grew more than I anticipated!)

    How about it ladies, is it really worth changing?

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Kathleen,
    Stinky sweat, yes. Grease, no way. Does anything get grease stains out? They’re my nemesis, as you’ll read on Friday at Simple Organic, actually! I also have trouble with anything getting tomato sauce stains out other than (sometimes) a soak in oxygen bleach. ??? Maybe watch for a deal on the trial package just to see if you like them for a few bucks?

    Sounds like your laundry is no fun!
    –Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

    Laura Reply:

    Katie, just wanted to tell you what i use to get oil stains out…in fact it is all i use for stains. My mother-in-law taught me to use Murphy’s oil soap for stains and it works great!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Peggy

    I use soap nuts in my front loader, but not in a bag. I make soap but “tea” by pouring a quart boiling water over a dozen nuts and steeping them. I use the liquid in the soap dispenser (about 1/3 cup). I reuse the same nuts until the tea is no longer slick.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Caitlin Reply:

    Peggy,
    Is this what you’d recommend for the washers that use the soap dispenser tray? I bought the soap nuts to give them a try then I realized I guess I need the liquid form b/c of the tray.
    How long do you steep them? After that, do you just take the nuts out and store them for the next time you need more soap “tea”? Thanks! Caitlin

    [Reply to this comment]

    Peggy Reply:

    If I have any “tea” left at the end of the day, I just stick the jar “nuts and all” in the fridge, covered. It will sit happily for a couple days. Remember, you’re basically dealing with a dried fruit like raisins, so I would toss it if it grows mold or smells funky.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • lin

    lady

    because of u i used soap nuts recently i stopped im trying baking soda anyway gal thanks

    i used to ask u to use nuts for hair n shower i tink but i dun think u reverted anyway! im here to tell u i used tt for so many things EVERYTHING I SUPPOSE head to toe? and others dish washing so on

    its getting commercial and irritating how ppl like to mix nuts? apparently there is hard shell and soft

    anyway long story cut short baking soda is my new try for dishwashing and going to b for hair n maybe everything again. mayb the one u have from natuoil is good really ggreat tt kind i m really not sure but i always have to put more than what i see the directions online haha!! if not will not b clean my dear. anyway let me teach u what i do. i know u r frugal i tink i m genius lol i dun throw them so easily my dear u got to let them stay in water maybe good water works even better anyway dun throw them soak them n u will b really surprised at the amount of saponin produced frm smth seemingly dead like ripped of saponins but they still have . anyway i stopped using them cos from my end to buy from naturoil mayb very good brand) is very expensive but at my side here asia i cant find a reliable one so forget it so troublesome for what i know it is good i know but i m trying baking soda n vinegar see how. so rem dun throw them if u r frugal soak them. n u will know what happens. i keep them for a really long time. ur friend from asia. have read a lot of ur entries. God is Jesus..

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Kika@embracingimperfection

    I’ve used soap nuts for about two years now. I did feel like my clothes were getting a little dingy and switched to another green product but after a time realized it is probably my machine that is not the greatest. So I’m back to my soap nuts. My kids find them a little more challenging to use, and this is the only downside for me.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • lin

    i kept them for months

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Kathleen K

    I wonder then if soap nuts would work well for our family’s current method of laundry?

    As I mentioned, I use my own homemade powder laundry mix, but that blend isn’t great at getting out several-day-old stains. So I created another house rule: if you get food/grass/mud/grease/unknown on your clothes, PRETREAT it! We keep an old Method detergent bottle in the laundry room with laundry detergent in it and squirt some of that on the stain. Leave the clothes on the washer so that when I run a load, I see what might require extra attention. Usually it comes right out the first time, but if not, I will let it soak overnight in the washer (yeah for top loaders!) before continuing the cycle. We also line dry our clothes which means the dryer doesn’t “set” the stain.

    Maybe I’ll give the soap nuts a try….

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Susan b

    One last question….do the nuts have to be open to work? If you have a whole nut, does it work just as well? thanks

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Susan,
    No, they’re not in a shell or anything, more like hard dried fruit. :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

    Gabrielle Reply:

    It says on my packet to smash them into smaller bits to work better.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Dianna

    Ive contemplated making the switch, but wanted to know how they were on getting out stains …. I’ve got three small ones who live to get outside and get dirty!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Dianna,
    I can’t honestly say they do great with ground in dirt…does anything? I rely on an oxygen bleach soak for anything challenging… :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Julie

    I have used both with out anyone of the guys in my house knowing that I switched anything and they hands down preferred the soap nuts over the 18x. They even asked me not to use the 18x on their towels, underwear, or jeans (DH asked not to use 18x at all on his clothes, but he is Italian and has oily skin, and says his clothes didn’t feel clean). They noticed right away that the 18x didn’t get their jeans clean…but they never noticed before trying 18x that I switched to soap nuts!

    Also, soap nuts or 18x never cleaned my daily kitchen cloths to the point where they didn’t smell after I got them wet the first time.
    I am going to try the homemade Naptha laundry soap that has been made infamous by the Duggar family to see if that works for us.

    Just my thoughts and experiences for whatever they are worth!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Julie,
    Hmmm…you know, my kitchen washcloths often seem to smell like chicken broth – I wonder if it’s because the soap nuts don’t quite cut any grease that might be in that load well enough. Maybe I’ll try to use my other laundry options on towels for a few times and see if anything changes – a good experiment! Thanks for adding your thoughts, how interesting about the boys noticing the difference!
    :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Gabrielle

    I just wanted to add some information that I read somewhere. I’ve also been using soap nuts for years and thought I was doing something great for the environment. Well that might be in my own country, but I hadn’t been thinking of other consequences it could have. Because of the high demand in the US and in Europe, people in India cannot afford these nuts themselves anymore and have to buy cheap washing powder…remember that most people there wash their clothes in rivers, where there is no waste water treatment before the water ends up in the sea. I’d prefer now to find eco washing powder that is locally produced, or as local as possible.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Gabrielle,
    Yikes! That’s no good…nothing is easy, is it? Sigh…can we hope the supply will catch up with the demand soon? :( Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Nicole @ Simple Organic

    Thanks, Katie! This was just what I needed. ;) I’ve been using soapnuts for over a year now and really love them.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Stephanie

    I’m interested in Soap Nuts, but the frugalista in me is curious… How would Soup Nuts compare cost-wise with making my own powdered laundry soap? I mix in a food processor 1 shredded bar of Ivory Soap, 1 cup washing soda, and 1 cup borax. I only use about a tablespoon of this stuff (for cold loads), or maybe 2 Tbsps (for really gross kids laundry in hot water). Problem is, I don’t know exactly how many loads this makes – I’ve never measured it precisely…

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Stephanie,
    I’m really not sure b/c homemade laundry soap is one thing I’ve never tried. Soap nuts, bought in bulk, are pretty darn inexpensive. There are 16 Tbs. in a cup, I think, if it helps you figure – your batch maybe makes 3 cups?

    :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Rachel

    I started using Soapnuts a year ago and now I can’t see myself using anything else as long as they stay affordable. LOVE them! I love that I can wash everything including my daughters diapers!

    Just wanted to add my way of keeping track how many times I’ve used the soapnuts. I have one of those wire shelves above the washer/dryer that seem so prevalent in in all the rent houses we’ve lived in. I tie a ribbon to hang from the shelf and add a clothespin every time I do a load. This way I don’t have to put a hole in the wall and its so easy to set up and get the ball rolling on move in.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Internet Travel Guide (3/21/12) « The Farmpartment

    [...] skin, you totally should. And if you do, and you’d like to know when they’re “done,” here’s a helpful tip! I’ll be trying this… next time I get around to doing [...]

  • Camille via Facebook

    Thanks for this tip! I put a Mason jar right in the laundry and keep my soap nut bag right in there. I just add some hot watr and swish to see if they are still good.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Judith via Facebook

    i use them and like them quite a lot!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Janelle

    I am getting prepared to use cloth diapers. Since it appears that soap nuts work for some types of water, what type of water do you have that it does work for? Soft or hard?
    Thanks!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Janelle,
    My water is pretty hard, but I haven’t had the guts to try soap nuts on cloth diapers. Some love them, some hate them! This week, I’ll have to try it… :) katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Terah

    I am so thankful for this article! We are living in Nepal for 5 months and after reading this post, and realizing that they are grown here in Nepal, I was able to go to a market with a friend and pick a whole lot of them up today. I got 2 kg. for under $2!! YEAH!! I am totally taking them home with me, and now realizing how much I would have to pay back in America, I think that I might go back to the crazy market and buy some more. Thank you, Katie!!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Soap Nuts: The Wonder Berry

    [...] to actually sort than it does to make the tea. And I read at Kitchen Stewardship another way to make soap nut tea. Run a little bit of hot water in the bottom of your washer to cover the bag, throw the soap nuts [...]

  • C Clark

    Easily keep count using refrigerator magnets on your washer!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Lynn Murdock

    I have used soap nuts for sev. years & love them. I have a front washer to which I add the soap nuts soaked in hot water for 3 min. To keep track of the number of times I use each bag, I line up 5 small cardboard boxes which herb tea bags come in, label them from 1-5. Once a bag is used for the first time, it goes into the #1 box, the next time it’s used it goes into the #2 box & so forth. I use this method because I have several bags filled with soap nuts so they can dry out in between uses.

    [Reply to this comment]

Leave a Comment

Welcome!  Meet Katie.

I embrace butter. I make homemade yogurt. I eat traditional real food – plants and animals that God created, not products of plants where food scientists work. Here at Kitchen Stewardship, I share how I strive to be a good steward of my family's nutrition, the environment, and our budget, all without spending every second in the kitchen. Learn more about the mission of KS here.

PTE350
Squooshi reusable food pouches